Economics

Real Estate Doesn’t Make an Economy

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From Southern California to Shanghai and London, inflated real estate prices have evolved into a simulacrum for broader prosperity. In an era of limited income gains, growing inequality, political dysfunction and fading productivity, the conjunction of low interest rates and essentially free money for the rich and well-placed has sparked the construction of often expensive, high-density residential housing.  read more »

Corporate Mustard Showroom Helps Explain New York’s Retail Rent Crisis

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The story of skyrocketing rents has two components: residential and commercial.

My New York neighborhood, the Upper West Side, features fairly stable residential rents, but commercial rents seem to have been soaring. This has caused the familiar angst over the loss of neighborhood businesses to the ubiquitous bank branches and drug stores.  read more »

Can California Transition to Next Tech Wave?

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The consumer technology boom, largely responsible for a resurgence in California’s economy after the tech wreck of 2001, seems to be coming to an end. The signs are widespread: slowing employment, layoffs from bell-weather social media companies, the almost embarrassing difficulty of finding buyers for Twitter, the absorption of Yahoo by Verizon and the acquisition by Microsoft of LinkedIn.  read more »

The House Prices are Too Damned High

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In recent years, the plight of renters in a stagnant economy has been covered extensively. A book title incorporated the phrase “the rent is too damn high” (by Matthew Iglesias). The “Rent is Too Damn High Party” ran candidates in both city and state of New York elections. However, as bad as rent increases have been, more serious has been the escalation of house prices in the major metropolitan areas of the United States.  read more »

A Capital Improvement and Revitalization Idea for Detroit

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You may have heard that Detroit is in the midst of a modest but enduring revival in and around its downtown. Residents and businesses are returning to the city, filling long-vacant skyscrapers, prompting new commercial development and revitalizing adjacent old neighborhoods. As a former Detroiter I'm excited to see the turnaround. After so many false starts, Detroit's post-bankruptcy rebound seems very real.  read more »

Today’s Orange County: Not Right Wing—and Kinda Hip

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What comes to mind when you think about Orange County? Probably, images of lascivious housewives and blonde surfers. And certainly, at least if you know your political history, crazed right-wing activists, riding around with anti-UN slogans on their bumpers in this county that served as a crucial birthplace of modern movement conservatism in the 1950s.  read more »

Diedre McCloskey’s Trickle-Out Economics

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Economics, history, English and communications Professor Diedre N. McCloskey, of the University of Illinois, Chicago offers a unique interpretation of economic history  that is well summarized in the subtitle of her book, “Bourgeois Equality: How Ideas, Not Capital or Institutions Enriched the World.”

This is a magisterial volume, which Matthew Ridley praised in his Times of London review, saying “It is so rich in vocabulary, allusion and fact as to be a contender for the great book of our age.” That is not an exaggeration.  read more »

Subjects:

America's Next Great Metropolis Is Taking Shape In Texas

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If you drive south from Dallas, or west from Houston, a subtle shift takes place. The monotonous, flat prairie that dominates much of Texas gives way to a landscape that rises and ebbs.  read more »

The New War Between the States

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In this disgusting election, dominated by the personal and the petty, the importance of the nation’s economic geography has been widely ignored. Yet if you look at the Electoral College map, the correlation between politics and economics is quite stark, with one economy tilting decisively toward Trump and more generally to Republicans, the other toward Hillary Clinton and her Democratic allies.  read more »

Solidarity, not Division: Understanding London’s East End

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The East End of London has a long history of working-class community. It has been a place of industry, where the river Thames and the river Lea have provided work for many people. The area attracted many immigrants, including workers from Africa since Tudor times, sailors from China, former slaves from America, French Protestants facing religious persecution in the 1600s and Irish weavers working in the textile industries. There have been Jewish communities in the East End for centuries, too. The twentieth century saw an increase in immigrants from the former British colonies, including South Asia, particularly Bangladesh. Not only has it been a place to seek a livelihood, but it has also been a place of refuge.  read more »